Union match reports

Match report: Orlando City SC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union’s return to the U.S. Open Cup was short-lived, as goals early in the second half from Ercan Kara and Andres Perea powered Orlando City to a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night in Orlando.

Reserve defender Stuart Findlay scored the Union’s goal in the 77th minute.

In the midst of a heavy stretch of matches, Jim Curtin rotated his side liberally, switching from the 4-4-2 diamond to the 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree formation. Matt Freese started in net, while Matt Real, Stuart Findlay, and Olivier Mbaizo joined Jack Elliott in defense. Leon Flach anchored the midfield with Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan alongside and a pair of No. 10s–Daniel Gazdag and Paxten Aaronson–ahead. Cory Burke started as the lone striker.

The early minutes in Exploria Stadium were energetic, with the youthful Union feeling out a similarly reserve-heavy Orlando side. Sullivan, Aaronson, and Gazdag all had early opportunities in the box, while a one-time shot by Alexandre Pato forced Findlay into last-ditch defending. Cory Burke required medical attention within 20 minutes after a collision, but he came back on in due time.

The match settled down as the half wore on. Both teams had dangerous free kicks that came to nothing; McGlynn curled his attempt well wide of the net.

Junior Urso had two golden chances to give Orlando the lead in first-half stoppage time, but both came to nothing. First, a corner fell to him near the penalty spot, and his finish forced a sprawling save from Freese. Just seconds later, a counterattack ended with a sumptuous ball by Fecundo Torres crossing the face of goal to find Urso, but Freese closed down the angle and forced the attacker into an ugly shot well over the bar.

The Union made a seemingly pre-planned change at halftime, swapping Elliott out for Jakob Glesnes.

Orlando City took the lead through Ercan Kara in the 54th minute. The hosts worked the ball wide, then crossed into the box, where the ball rattled around in the mixer for a moment. It fell to Kara, whose shot took a deflection off Glesnes and beat Freese.

An absolute howitzer of a long-range shot from Andres Perea doubled Orlando’s lead just three minutes later. Breaking up a passage of play, Findlay made a good tackle at the edge of the box, but it served the ball to Perea on a platter. He unleashed one from 30 yards out, which rifled away from the helpless Freese and into the side of the net.

With that, the Union had a mountain to climb. Curtin made a line change in the 61st minute, introducing Julian Carranza, Sergio Santos, and Jose Martinez for Gazdag, Santos, and Flach. Philly started to get forward a bit better, Aaronson dribbling into the box and producing a good attempt just the wrong side of the near post. But some of that energy wasn’t as productive; it took just seven minutes for Martinez to pick up his honorary yellow, this one for dissent.

Stuart Findlay, a defender with zero MLS minutes this season, would have been an unlikely pre-match choice to be the Union’s first goalscorer. But soccer can be an unlikely sport. Off a cleared corner, Martinez popped a ball into the box, where Findlay had made a good run. His one-time finish off his foot was almost striker quality, leaving Mason Stadujar stranded. Just like that, Orlando’s lead was one.

With the reinforcements in the game, the Union pressed in search of a winner, putting Orlando’s defense under pressure. Perhaps the best opportunity was a tantalizing ball from Aaronson toward Carranza near the penalty spot, the pass squirting into a tiny window and just a touch too far for the striker.

Orlando should have put the game to bed in stoppage time, when Ruan found himself 2-on-1 with the Union keeper. Freese was brave to come out to take the ball off his feet, but it was an inexplicable decision for Ruan to not square to his partner for a tap in.

The final play of the match could have tied it for the Union. Philly sent the whole side forward for a free kick from the halfway line. Glesnes flicked to Wagner, whose header looked goalbound. But Stajduhar got down to grab it just on the line, and as the final whistle blew, it was the Union who were one-and-done in the 2022 U.S. Open Cup.

After three straight on the road, the Union return to Chester and MLS play on Saturday, when they play host to rival New York Red Bulls. Kickoff from Subaru Park is at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • A touch off.  The Union’s young midfield showed flashes in the first half, but could neither control the game nor create real danger on the counter. Another learning experience for the Homegrown contingent.
  • Long range.  It’s been ages since the Union have allowed a goal from the outside of the box, but Andres Perea broke that streak with quite a strike.
  • Time to focus.  While you never want to get knocked out of a competition, the early USOC exit gives Philly a chance to focus on the league, where the expectations are higher than ever before. This weekend’s collision with the current No. 2 in the East, New York Red Bulls, will be a great test.

Philadelphia Union 

Matt Freese, Matt Real (Kai Wagner 76′), Stuart Findlay, Jack Elliott (Jakob Glesnes 46′), Olivier Mbaizo, Jack McGlynn, Leon Flach (Jose Martinez 61′), Quinn Sullivan, Paxten Aaronson, Daniel Gazdag (Julian Carranza 62′), Cory Burke (Sergio Santos 62′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Alejandro Bedoya

Orlando City SC

Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday (Ruan 77′), Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Kyle Smith, Cesar Araujo (Sebas Mendez 87′), Andres Perea, Junior Uso, Alexandre Pato (Mauricio Pereyra 76′), Facundo Torres (Joao Moutinho 77′), Ercan Kara

Unused subs: Adam Grinwis, Thomas Williams, Jack Lynn

Scoring Summary

ORL: Ercan Kara — 54′
ORL: Andres Perea — 57′
PHI: Stuart Findlay — 77′ (Jose Martinez)

Discipline Summary

PHI: Matt Real — 13′ (foul)
PHI: Jose Martinez — 68′ (dissent)
PHI: Jack McGlynn — 83′ (foul)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 88′ (foul)
ORL: Sebas Mendez — 90+2′ (foul)


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    3 straight Open Cup losses for the Union going back to the debacle in Houston.
    I’m glad Curtin essentially stuck to his game plan and took the loss rather than let any of his regulars play more than about 60 minutes (although Glesnes would have gone 75 if they had tied it).

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    Was at least good to see them play substantially better when the starters came in. A shame the first half was so rough. The group out there looked like they had never really played together… which makes some sense… cause they really haven’t. Also wish we didn’t just play in LA 2.5 days ago so we could’ve played more starters longer, but it is what it is. Still almost tied it at the end. Paxten came alive last 20 mins or so was great to see. Sullivan looked really off and seemed to get pushed off the ball a lot. Big game Saturday. Let’s go!!!

  3. Can’t say I’m too upset, honestly. Got the kids some time, don’t have to worry about added games in a tight division race…plus, I don’t pay for ESPN+, so I couldn’t watch it.
    The real game is on Saturday.

  4. The main take away that actually has impact on league games is that Burke looks totally done. He looks like he can’t help us at all. Santos is very flawed too but atleast he is capable of running fast behind the backline and can actually hold off a defender sometimes. Burke is just cooked.

    It’s a shame we have no real HG Strikers yet because minutes are there. I don’t know what we can do. I don’t think Sullivan or Gazdag are real options there. Maybe call up Pierre and try to find a good cheap MLS veteran as a rotation option.

    • Totally disagree.

      Our strikers are just now starting to gel, and ‘the kids’ are just not ready for MLS riggors.

      Burke is now a role player and so is Santos. Maybe THAT plays on both of them, but get over it. Carannza has proven himself and Urhe is just ‘warming’ up literally, with Gazdag ready to break MLS assist records 2nd half of the year.

      Hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester!

      • Uhre may be just warming up, but in order to do that, he has to actually play.

        This team has played 11 games in all comps this year.

        He’s started 4. That’s 36% of them.

        Visa issues early on or not, he’s here now, and his team needs him to start and to contribute. If we want to make a run at the Shield, Conference, or MLS Cup (which is the whole argument of why we checked-out on the USOC), then we really are running out of time to wait for if/when it happens.

    • I think James means the minutes at striker are there because of injuries and compressed May schedule, not the quality of Uhre and Carranza. We clearly have 2 starters and two subs.
      But because of current injury situation & compressed May schedule, it is a shame there is not a HG striker ready because there would be minutes available to him.

      • Yup! This is accurate.

      • Sounds to me like Nick S is back in town, and M’Bohli nearby at the airport.

        The strikers are fine…. Will be better, soon.

        Just amazing the micro management in this town.

        A good reason why #10s go elsewhere. Lived in many cities. NONE with sports talk radio so dominant, destructive and negative.

        Too bad… Missing a great year.

  5. Is José Martínez unable to control his emotions? He seems unstable emotionally.

  6. SoccerDad says:

    Anyone know if cards in open cup games count against MLS card accumulation?

  7. NOT UPSET AT ALL… the way it should be to accomplish what we need to do in 2022.

    Now… TOTAL FOCUS ON HOSTING MLS CUP 2022 IN CHESTER.. a LASER BEAM FOCUS for the best squad this franchise has ever fielded… including all those kids!

    In Herr Tanner we trust!
    Curtin now too.

    LET’S GO!

  8. In the article on the lead-up to this game, Curtin’s philosophy was stated that if you rotate out more than 3 starters at a time, quality of play decreases substantially.
    The U’s standard line-up is 4-4-2, so you could make a case that the only starters playing in their normal positions were Elliott and Gazdag. Burke was solo instead of teamed up and Flach was holding/central instead of on the left wing.
    That means 9 changes or players in different starting positions. In retrospect, this game was probably more of a reach than LA at 10pm and similar to the playoff game against the Pigeons when half the team had covid.
    Anyway, it was what it was.
    Now on to the important business with the pink cows…

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